A calendar page got flipped over this week. The heart and love theme of February on the display wall at work had lost its purpose. I detached the items and stowed them away for another year. Ever think about how frequently life calls for take -down-take-away-make -room occurences?
I'm merrily exchanging texts with someone and out of nowhere, before I can read the next reply that has just come back, the irritating message pops up telling me what small percentage of space I have left in my inbox for receiving more messages. I begrudge the time it takes to stop my conversation and follow the cell land path to erase and empty the in-bin.
I dropped by a salon this week to have hair ends on my head shed-- another take -away episode. Another day my collection of snowmen were sent to the basement closet where they can hibernate until next December. It was a make-room moment for the family portraits to return to the space the snowmen had borrowed for the season.
Winter is giving place to spring, the bed is torn apart so clean, fresh sheets can again deliver the tight smoothness we enjoy, and a used T-shirt loses it life to succumb to my creative endeaver to cut it up and repurpose it into a scarf.
These common happenings bring changes, and the kind of changes we mostly welcome. Without emptying the inbox, we'd miss our messages. In some circles our trustworthiness falls proportionately with the length of hair we keep. We could decide to not change the calendar, but life won't be put on hold and we'd lose touch with the reality of time. Do you ever talk back to signs that are outdated or to commercials that advertise what has already happened? We expect to be kept current. There is a curiosity for the new. Maybe it's a competitive edge on knowledge or prestige we want to flaunt. Maybe the new is like a breath of fresh air in places that have become stagnant and where we've felt stuck.
So why fear change? It produces good. Furthermore, as Christians we know that God works all things together for good to those who love him, so bring it on. About now, you're starting to argue my perspective, so I'll hasten to agree with you --it ain't all that easy--
Recently a friend asked for something that seemed ill-timed and I felt taken advantage of. Circumstances prohibited me from granting her request, nethertheless, I had a choice to make; to let go of any negative judgment against her or to hold on to an irritation at her insensitivity and lose the closeness our friendship afforded. A bit harder to allow that change of heart and attitude, but still the benefits of overlooking the offence were easy to see and acknowledge.
But it gets tougher. If you give up a sinful or destructive habit, will there really be greater happiness? If I share this area of pain or failure with you, will I lose your love? Will anyone make room for someone whose reputation has been ruined through bad credit, bad choices with huge consequences attached, or shameful behavior?
Sadness pervades our breakfast, as a friend shares about helping to pick up the broken pieces of her daughter's marriage. Will life ever feel good again to a young mother who may raise a small child on her own for years to come? What positive exchange does she get from this take-away?
"It's lonely", says the neighbor lady whose husband died this past December. I sympathize and try to help by listening and sharing some time with her. Very little seems right or good in this loss.
A lost opportunity for an adult child brings grief as my hope for their happiness is deferred. This isn't the change I had prayed for. What about those good plans you promised for him, I ask the Father.
Take-aways of this magnitude offer little if any glimpse of what good will come out of it or if the hole that's left from the tearing away will ever accept a good replacement or refilling. What do we do when up against such agonies of defeat?
The answer lies in Who we lean on and trust for help when life goes south. It's times like these that our faith either flees or feeds and fattens. Blase' verses of promise on refridgerator magnets now become a matter of life or death as faith is tested. During the greatest time of loss in my life, my soul clung to the promises of a Father I knew was loving and faithful. The simple words of "I will never leave you or forsake you", "even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I won't be afraid of any evil", and “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life" fed my faith and kept me tethered to the Father during the storm.
James (Msg) speaks about this kind of faith in his book, chapter one:
2-4Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. 5-8If you don't know what you're doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You'll get his help, and won't be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought.
And here is what you GET in return, the exchange, the replacement, the good that only comes from putting your faith in the Father:
12Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate. For such persons loyally in love with God, the reward is life and more life.
Wow, I never knew there was such a lesson in turning the page of a calendar! May the Father encourage, bless and help you today.